Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

Chris Campbell walked across the formal garden from his Sanctuary and into Mount Lœng House. The house was quiet, as he expected it to be. The butler greeted him politely in the hallway and informed him that the Master of the House was in his meditation room. He thanked him and headed for the stairs to the basement room that served that purpose.

The Doctor wasn’t meditating. He and Davie were in the TARDIS in the corner of the meditation room doing something to the console and speaking to each other in a technical language Chris had never mastered. He piloted his own TARDIS using a strong mental connection with the semi-sentient heart of the machine. He didn’t have to know what the mechanical parts of it were called.

“Hey,” he said. His brother and great grandfather both paused in their work and responded warmly. “You’re both abandoned by your womenfolk today, too?”

“I know we bought loads of stuff before the twins were born,” Davie said. “But apparently babies grow all the time and regular shopping trips are essential.”

“You didn’t know that until now?” The Doctor asked him. “And I thought you were an intelligent young man, Davie Campbell.”

“The things none of us three know about babies and women know instinctively would fill a library,” Chris commented. “I don’t think Carya even trusts me to change a nappy.”

“Brenda definitely doesn’t trust me with technical stuff like that,” Davie responded. “And if I hold either of the twins for more than three minutes at a time she gets fidgety. I think she’s worried I’m going to start training them to be Time Lords before they’ve even cut their first teeth.”

“I think she’s worried you’re going to train them to be racing car drivers before they’re out of nappies,” The Doctor responded with a wry smile. “The hand made romper suits in your team livery were probably the warning sign for Brenda.”

“Well, you know, everyone is starting young in this family,” Chris pointed out in defence of his brother. “Our wives have all gone shopping at Mothercare in the twenty-first century in a TARDIS piloted by Vicki and Sukie.”

“They were ready to take a short unsupervised trip,” The Doctor admitted. “Not THAT unsupervised, mind you. I’ve got a transponder signal on the communications array. I know exactly where and when they all are.”

“When we were fourteen, you’d never have let us loose with a TARDIS, even with tracking,” Davie pointed out. “We would have killed for the chance!”

The Doctor laughed at Davie’s choice of words. But he fully understood his sentiment.

“I wasn’t ready to let you two stretch your wings. You were my first apprentices for eight hundred years and I just wanted to be sure you could look after yourselves.”

“All things considered, you were probably right to clip our wings,” Chris admitted. “We did cause a fair bit of trouble when we were allowed to go it alone.”

“Water under the bridge,” The Doctor answered him in a more sober tone. “We won’t dwell on that. You’ve both done well since. The universe is safe in your hands. I finally have the quiet life I always wanted.”

The Doctor finished the calibration and dusted his hands. He turned to his two great-grandsons.

“Shall we take her for a quick spin, for old times’ sake?” he asked.

Chris and Davie were married men, parents with responsibilities. But they smiled happily as they recalled the carefree days when they had explored the galaxy with The Doctor, when they had followed his lead instead of being leaders themselves. As much as they treasured the life they had now, the idea of recapturing those times was more than tempting. Chris reached to shut the TARDIS door. The Doctor initiated a dematerialisation.

“There’s a planet in the Gemini sector that might be worth spending an afternoon on,” Davie said as they contemplated the whole of time and space and wondered which part of it to visit. “I skimmed past it when I took Brenda’s parents home to Tibora. It has some unusual atmospheric readings.”

The Doctor stood back from the navigation console and let Davie programme the destination.

“Do you have all your destinations committed to memory?” The Doctor asked him.

“Not all of them,” Davie responded. “Chris does. His mind is a star map. I just have a good memory for numbers.”

“And cars,” Chris said with a grin at his brother. Ask him anything about those!”

“And I could ask you anything about the history and philosophies of Gallifrey,” Davie countered. “You couldn’t know more if you were born there.”

“In my hearts, I was,” Chris answered him. “I dream of it, often. The yellow sky by day, burnt brown by night, with the moon in either silver or copper aspect, the constellations...”

“You remember it as well as I do,” The Doctor told him. “Treasure it in your hearts, my boy, and it will never really be gone.”

“My boy?” Chris smiled. “Grandfather, I’m a married man. I have a son of my own. Davie has twins boys. We’re both too old to be boys any more.”

“Too old to call me granddad, too?” The Doctor smiled wryly. “Time goes by too quickly even for Time Lords. But this afternoon we’re all escaping our responsibilities. No wives or children to worry us, just the universe at our command.”

Chris and Davie took their places at the console as they used to do when they were The Doctor’s young apprentices learning to pilot a TARDIS. They knew as much, if not more, than he did about the discipline by now. But they were glad to play subordinate roles for once. For Chris, who was leader and teacher of his own students, it made a refreshing change. For Davie, who often felt as if he carried the universe on his young shoulders, it was a relief.

They both still felt that way when the TARDIS landed on the planet named in the database as Rizacx IX. The only burden they shouldered as they stepped out under a lilac sky with three suns and a pale moon was a picnic lunch in their backpacks. The air was warm and lightly scented with something like pine. That puzzled them since there were no trees on the gently sloping hillside they were leisurely climbing. Then they noticed that the grass was giving off the smell.

“Nice,” Davie commented. “Shame we can’t take some seeds back. Dad would love a lawn that smelt of pine.”

“Importing extra-terrestrial plant life is very dangerous,” The Doctor said. “You might start with a patch in your dad’s rose garden and end up contaminating the whole planet. I don’t see any kind of herd animals around here. Not even anything like a rabbit. Could be the grass is poisonous. That wouldn’t be so good for the herbivore life of planet Earth, would it?”

“I guess not,” Davie conceded. “I might take some carefully sealed samples to the bio-lab on Santurio. There isn’t any grass there to contaminate.”

“Ever the scientist,” The Doctor commented. “You’re a chip off the old block, Davie.”

“I should hope so.”

“I’m quite happy for the grass to stay right here,” Chris said. “It’s beautiful. So peaceful. Unpopulated. I wonder why?”

“Because the grass is poisonous, maybe?” Davie suggested. “Or it could be something to do with those atmospheric anomalies.” He glanced at the chunky device strapped to his wrist. “Picking up varying levels of ionic particles, gamma radiation, helio-magnesic residue…”

“When you analyse it like that, it seems scary,” Chris told him. “It doesn’t FEEL like anything to worry about. In fact, it feels good, a bit like the Eye of Orion. Put away your tools, Davie, and trust your own instincts. There’s nothing harmful here.”

“I’ll trust your instincts, brother of mine,” Davie answered. “My instincts are for the sound of a TARDIS engine or the downforce on a car as I pick up speed on the straight.”

Chris laughed and reached out his hand to his brother. Davie reached back. They walked hand in hand the way they used to do when they were boys and they sought reassurance from each other against a universe that could feel too big for them.

“I feel as if I could forget everything for a little while,” Chris said. “All the responsibilities we have back home.”

“I like the responsibilities,” Davie pointed out. “I love Brenda and the boys.”

“Of course you do,” Chris assured him. “I love Carya and Tilo. And that’s amazing really, because I never expected to do either. But right now I feel like I’m twelve again and I want to race you to the top of the hill and then run down the other side.”

They let go of each other’s hands and ran. The complementary disciplines of martial arts and meditation had honed their minds and bodies and even though the last fifty yards of the slope was a stiff gradient they sprinted as if on level ground. The Doctor laughed and took his time. He was physically fit, too, but he had nothing to prove.

When he reached the crown of the hill he looked down onto a wide, clear upland lake. A stirring in his mind told him that it would be called a corrie on Earth, where they had words for different kinds of geographical features. It was a pretty lake, still as glass, reflecting the lilac sky above.

But he couldn’t see the twins anywhere around it.

Chris and Davie looked at their own reflections in the lake, and though they were both highly intelligent young men they took a surprisingly long time to work out what was wrong with those reflections.

“That’s us,” Chris said. “But years ago... when we were sixteen... when you first got the blonde highlights in your hair and I started putting mine in a pony tail.”

He blinked and looked at his brother. He was about sixteen, with his hair newly cut and styled at a hairdresser, with striking blonde streaks in the dark brown. He reached out and touched his brother’s face, feeling the soft skin of a youth who hadn’t started shaving seriously, yet. He felt Davie do the same to him, before reaching and flicking his pony tail. When they were sixteen, Davie used to do that all the time.

“What happened to us?” he asked.

“We’re... young...” Davie answered. “We’re... kids again.”

“But... we can’t be. I’m married. I’ve got a son. I’ve had sex.”

“Me too,” Davie agreed. “Not so often lately, with twins needing attention every few hours... but I can definitely remember what it was like. And it wasn’t something I used to do when I was this age.”

“I should think not.”

“Let’s get back to granddad. Maybe he can figure this out.”

They turned back up the sloping meadow.

“I ought to be able to figure this out,” Davie said. “I should know everything he knows. I have his soul within me.”

“You did when you were a grown up,” Chris pointed out. “I’m not even sure if we’re technically still Time Lords. We’re kids…”

Davie stopped walking. He turned and pressed his hands against his brother’s chest, feeling his double hearts beating. He closed his eyes and concentrated. Even as teenagers their telepathic skills were strong, and he could still read Chris’s body. He saw the double-helix DNA of an untranscended Gallifreyan.

“We’re not Time Lords any more.”

“We were Time Lords candidates at this age. It was inside us both, in potentia. Granddad always said so.”

“It was the proudest day when we transcended. To be a Time Lord at last... what we wanted from the first day we knew who we really were… I never looked back from that day.”

“Neither did I.”

“But… now… The idea of going through it again…”

“It’s still what we want more than anything.”

“Would you… if you knew how much it was going to hurt… how dreadful it felt… would you?”


“Me, too.”

“Will we have to? Are we stuck like this? Do we have to do it all again… growing up… transcension…”

“I don’t know. Maybe this is some kind of hallucination. Did we hit our heads or something ?”

“We didn’t do anything except run up a hill and then down the other side.”

“Chris...” Davie looked at his brother again. “Chris, what is your wife’s name?”

“My... what?” Chris looked at his twin in surprise. “I don’t... I’m sixteen. I don’t have... I’m not even interested in girls. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not interested in boys, either. Not that way. I think I’m meant to do something else.”

Davie grasped Chris tightly around the shoulders and hugged him.

“Yes, I know. We all wondered about you when you were this age. You always insisted you weren’t gay. You just had other things going on in your head. And you were right. You fell hook line and sinker for the prettiest girl you set eyes on and forgot all about wanting to be celibate and esoteric. It was me who gave mum and dad all the anxiety, wondering if I was going to marry the girl I got engaged to or go and have a mad, passionate affair with another man. Chris... remember all of that. Remember Carya, your beautiful exotic wife who everyone adores. Remember little Tilo, your baby boy, just cutting his first teeth and learning to sit up and take notice of the world. Remember... remember Brenda, my Brenda... who wanted nothing out of life except to have my babies. And... and now she has them... my sons... My babies... Seb and... and...”

Davie paused. He stared into his brother’s eyes and then blinked.

“What... was I talking about?” he asked.

“You were telling me I’m a total girl and flicking my pony tail,” Chris answered.

“Yeah, probably. But... it feels as if I’ve forgotten something important... something... that really matters to me...”

“Now who’s being a total girl?” Chris teased. “Come on, we’d better get back to granddad and the TARDIS. He’ll be worried about us.”

“Yeah.” Davie looked around. The treeless landscape was difficult to get any bearings on, but he thought they ought to go back up the slope. He was sure that was the way.

When they reached the top of the slope, though, they looked down into a green-meadowed valley with a stream running through it. There was no TARDIS, and no sign of The Doctor.

“It’s nice being out on our own without anyone watching and worrying about us,” Chris said. “Let’s go down by that stream and eat our picnic lunch.”

They walked side by side, talking, as they invariably did, about the things they had learnt from their great-grandfather as he prepared them for Transcension. To be a Time Lord like him was their dearest ambition. It had brought them into conflict with their own father from time to time. He felt they were neglecting their ordinary educational opportunities.

“Dad doesn’t understand, does he?” Chris sighed as they sat by the gently bubbling stream and opened up their back packs. “Going to university – an ordinary Human university on Earth - and getting a degree - would be useless to us. We already know more than any university could teach us.”

“I wouldn’t mind having the facilities that the science departments have to experiment in,” Davie pointed out. “But I wouldn’t be allowed until I’d done at least six years of boring under-graduate and post-graduate courses.”

“Dad thinks we should go to university to be with normal people.”

“So does mum. She wants us to be able to make friends.”

“We never made friends at school. Why start now?”

“We don’t need friends. We’ve got each other.”

That had been true all through their childhood. They had stood out just a bit too much to easily integrate with other children. They were too good at their academic lessons, not interested enough in sports, too busy holding telepathic conversations with each other to talk to anyone else. But it didn’t bother them.

“We’re not freaks,” Chris said. “We’re Time Lord Candidates.”

“Yes.” Davie put the wrapper from his sandwiches back into his pack and knelt forward, looking at the river water. It was clear and pure to the naked eye at least. He put a hand in it and then tasted a drop of water on his finger.

“That was dangerous. It might have been acid and taken your whole hand off.”

“It’s not. It’s pure water. It’s come through limestone rocks, filtered clean. It’s good. We can refill our water bottles with it.”

“Don’t catch any fish with it,” Chris warned as Davie opened his bottle and held it underneath the water. He knelt beside his brother and watched the small, silvery fish swimming by. “Granddad is very strict about that sort of thing. No removing flora or fauna from a planet.”

“Chris...” Davie dropped his water bottle and stared at their reflections in the water. He knelt back and looked at his brother. “Chris... we’ve... changed...”

This time, they looked like they did when they were twelve, when their training as Time Lord candidates had begun in earnest and they had spent every day learning about temporal physics, astronomy, thermodynamics, Gallifreyan history, while paying only a passing glance at the lessons their school teachers were giving them. In the evenings, when other boys were playing football or taking part in youth activities, they were in the TARDIS with their great-grandfather, taking their first solo orbit of the Earth or landing on the dark side of the moon and stepping out in a pressurised suit to take rock samples for their own science experiments.

This was before Chris had long hair, before Davie had got the blonde highlights, when their mother bought their clothes, duplicate sets of everything, and they really were twins in every sense of the word, with the same ideas and feelings, the same wants and needs.

“This is... weird,” Chris said. “Before we were... I could remember...”

“What did you remember?” Davie asked. “I don’t remember anything. We were just eating our lunch and looking at the fish.”

“I feel... scared...” Chris admitted.

“Why? This planet is safe. Those little fish are the biggest animals here. Nothing can harm us. And we’ve got the whole afternoon before we have to go back to where granddad left the TARDIS.”

“I know,” he said. “But there’s something... something I should remember... something I shouldn’t lose sight of... and I’m scared of losing it.”

“Maybe you’re scared of losing me?” Davie said to him.

“I couldn’t lose you,” Chris answered him. “I love you, Davie.”

“I love you, too,” Davie responded. “But don’t let anyone hear us say that at school. They’d think we’re soft and kick us.”

“We’re not soft,” Chris said. “We do martial arts with granddad. We could kick them back, hard.”

“One day, I might,” Davie vowed. “I hate bullies.”

“No,” Chris said. “We COULD kick them. But just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. That’s what granddad tells us all the time.”

“Yeah,” Davie sighed. “It’s hard work, sometimes, turning the other cheek.”

“If people at school knew what we really are, it would be much worse. We’re safe this way.”

“Never mind about school. We’re not there now. Let’s follow this river down stream and see where it leads.”

They shouldered their backpacks again and walked. The suns in the lilac sky were hot, but a fragrant breeze blew, cooling them, and when the river tipped over the edge of a low cliff into an inlet of a wide blue sea they were delighted.

“I want to swim,” Chris said. “Let’s go down to the beach.”

“We haven’t got any swimming trunks,” Davie pointed out.

“Who’s going to notice?” Chris countered. “It’s just the two of us.”

They found a path down between the rocks to the sandy cove and left footprints in the undisturbed sand, as well as a heap of discarded clothes and shoes and abandoned backpacks before they ran into the sea in their underwear, squealing at the sudden cold as they plunged into the waves. Both boys had learnt to swim at an early age. They easily coped even with the strong swell that they encountered a few yards out. They enjoyed pitting their double hearts and their superior musculature against the elements. They couldn’t prove themselves against other boys in school sports in case those double hearts were discovered, so any other way they could stretch themselves physically was welcome.

Then Davie looked around for his brother and couldn’t see him. The undercurrent tugged at his legs and he fought against it as he turned in the water and spotted a dark head bobbing on the surface several yards away. He swam as fast as he could and grasped his brother’s body in his arms. He was alive, but unconscious. Davie turned on his back, holding Chris’s head out of the water and struck out for the shore using just his legs. Those two hearts of his beat in double time and his lungs were bursting with the effort before he felt wet sand beneath him and the surf washing over. He pulled Chris onto the dry part and began the life saving techniques he learnt when he and his brother were ten and they spent almost every weekend of a long hot summer at Highgate Ponds with their father. As Chris began to cough up sea water and gasp for breath he reflected that he had saved his brother’s life with something taught him by his Human father, not his Time Lord great-grandfather.

Then he forgot about Highgate Ponds and lifesaving lessons. When they were eight, that hadn’t happened, yet. He grasped his brother’s hand. It felt small. So did his.

Two eight year old boys, lying on a beach under a lilac sky, their skin quickly acquiring a coating of fine sand.

“I’m tired,” Chris said.

“So am I,” Davie answered. “Let’s move up the beach a bit and then sleep.”

They crawled rather than walked, picking up the clothes and bags they had left before their swim. They scooped out a depression in the fine, warm, loose sand near the treeline and lay in it together, holding each other tightly as they closed their eyes and let themselves sleep for a little while.

Davie woke first. It was still warm, but he felt as if at least an hour had passed by. He felt it instinctively. He sat up carefully, trying not to disturb his brother and noticed that at least one of the suns was low in the sky over the horizon. He brushed off as much of the sand from his skin as he could and reached for the t-shirt he had discarded earlier. He put it on and noticed that it was at least three sizes too big for him. So were the jeans he pulled on. He didn’t bother trying the shoes. He reached for his brother’s clothes and examined them carefully.

They were too big, too.

Why? It didn’t make sense. Why had they dressed in the wrong clothes to come walking on a beach? They had loads of clothes at home, and the TARDIS wardrobe had everything they could possibly want in the right sizes.

Chris stirred and sat up as he picked up the backpack and opened it. He noticed that the pack was one for adults, not a child. It would have been very difficult for him to carry it on his young shoulders.

“I feel... weird,” Chris said. “As if... there’s something I ought to remember, and I can’t. It... makes me sad.”

Davie looked at his brother and noticed the tears in his eyes. Chris was always the more fragile of the two of them emotionally. He cried much more easily, and about things Davie would take in his stride. But seeing his brother’s tears brought a tight lump to his throat. He, too, felt there was something missing in his life, something he ought never to have forgotten.

He emptied the contents of the backpack onto the sand. There was a towel and a pair of sunglasses for an adult, a spare t-shirt that was even bigger than the one he was wearing, and an expensive looking leather wallet. He opened it and noted there was quite a lot of cash under the flap, as well as three credit cards. The name on the cards was Mr D. C. Campbell.

There were two driving licences. One was a thin biometric card issued in the year 2218 with a holographic photograph on it. The other was issued in the year 2010. The plastic was thicker and the information was printed on the front and back.

Both were in the name of David Christopher Campbell. The picture on both cards was of a young man whose brown hair had blonde highlights in it.

“It’s a picture of dad when he was younger,” Chris said, looking at the cards.

“It’s not,” Davie responded. “Dad’s middle name isn’t Christopher. That’s my name. And you’re Christopher David. But nobody ever calls us that. We’ve always been Davie and Chris.”

His brain whirled. Those forgotten thoughts remained elusive but they nagged at him like a loose tooth.

Chris pulled something else from the back of the wallet. It was a photograph of a family. The same young man from the driving licence photographs was sitting on a chair with a very pretty woman by his side and two very small babies on his knee. Both of them were smiling happily.

Chris gave the photo to his brother and grabbed his own backpack. He rummaged in it until he found a nearly identical wallet. He didn’t bother about the credit cards and driving licence in the name of Christopher D. Campbell. He searched for something more precious.

He had a photograph, too. It was of a very beautiful young woman with dusky skin that was set off by the white dress she was wearing. She was holding a baby whose complexion was much paler than hers, although he did have brown eyes and hair.

“They’re what we’ve forgotten,” Chris said. “These women and those babies.”

“But who are they?” Davie asked. “And why am I so sad looking at the pictures?”

“They’re important to us,” Chris insisted.

Davie stared at the photograph in his hand. Then he pushed everything back into the backpack, including the shoes that were too big for him and put it on his back, adjusting the straps as far as they would go. He pulled in the belt of the too big jeans so that they wouldn’t fall off and walked towards the sea again. Chris hurriedly did the same and ran to catch up with him.

The tide was coming in, now, making pools of water where it had looked, before, as if the sand was even and level. Davie stood by one of the pools and looked at his own reflection in it. Chris stood at his side and did the same. Both of them exclaimed in surprise. Instead of seeing two eight year old boys who looked identical to each other two young men with the same face, the same eyes and hair, but who had gone to some lengths to be individuals, looked back.

Davie reached his hand into the water and agitated it. The reflections shimmered and distorted.

When he stood upright again he was much taller. His hand was that of an adult with the marks of several rings he had left in the TARDIS while they went walking in unknown territory. He looked at his brother and smiled at the long curling hair hanging loose around his face like one of the Romantic poets. He knew his own hair, apart from having an awful lot of sand blown into it, was neat and short and the blonde highlights freshly done a week ago.

He wasn’t even going to start to wonder how come he was now wearing adult clothes again, including shoes on his feet.

“Carya!” Chris murmured. “Tilo... How could I have ever forgotten them?”

“Brenda,” Davie said. “Seb... Mark... my baby boys. They’ve all gone shopping. We wanted an afternoon without responsibilities.”

“That’s what we got. We were kids again, with nothing to worry about.”

“Actually, I think we did a fair bit of worrying when we were kids. We worried about school, about becoming Time Lords, about what mum and dad thought of it all, about pleasing granddad. We worried about school bullies and all sorts of things, none of which seem to matter very much any more. And... the responsibilities we have... Brenda and the babies... they’re not a burden. They’re a blessing on my life. I love them. That’s why I felt sad when I couldn’t remember them. I missed them so much, and I didn’t even know why.”

Chris nodded. He reached into his backpack for the picture of his wife and son and looked at it for a long time.

“Why did it happen?” Davie added. “What is it about this place?”

“I don’t know. But my instinct was wrong. I told you it was safe, but I’m not sure about that, now.”

“Me, neither,” Davie said. “Let’s find granddad and go home.”

That was easier than they thought. When they reached the top of the cliff from the beach they looked down at the green valley where the TARDIS was parked. The Doctor was waiting beside it.

“That wasn’t there before,” Davie said.

“Maybe it was and we just couldn’t see it,” Chris suggested. “Anyway, it’s there, now.”

They didn’t run, but they walked in long strides that covered the ground quickly. The Doctor nodded as they approached and opened the door.

“I knew you’d find your way back eventually,” he said to them as he went to the console and took the TARDIS into orbit over the planet.

“Something very weird happened,” Chris told him. They quickly described their experience.

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “I spent several hours thinking I was on a camping trip with my father when I was eighty. I think it was an hallucination. I’m not sure. Perhaps I really was that young for a little while. I wonder if I would have got back out of it again if I didn’t have so much to come back to. There were times in my life... before I met Rose... before I had you two, before the children... when I would have been happy to go back to a simpler, easier time and forget about the responsibilities of a Time Lord.”

“Does that planet... would it have that effect on anyone who goes down there?”

“I suspect it would,” The Doctor said. “Which is why I’m setting an amber level warning beacon in place.”

“Two levels short of a mauve alert warning against setting foot on the planet at all,” Davie noted.

“Anyone does, it’s up to them how they deal with it,” The Doctor said. “They’ve been warned. As for us...”

“I want to go home,” Davie told him. “I want to hug Brenda and the babies.”

“Me, too,” Chris said. “I mean... I want to hug MY wife and child. Not Davie’s. But you know I meant that.”

“A quick adventure and home for tea,” The Doctor said hitting the drive control with the destination set for Earth just before four o’clock.